I’m not religious or even Republican, I’m far left wing, but I have a mind of my own and I don’t side with every individual stance of the Democrats just because I’m a Democrat. One of the ways in which I don’t stand with my fellow democrats is that I’m pro-life.
Being pro-life isn’t about misogyny or trying to control women’s bodies. It’s about not standing for murder in its grossest form. Those who accuse of pro-lifers of misogyny or trying to control women’s bodies are using manipulation, slinging insults that seem like they could be true but aren’t necessarily the case, pitting those people directly against the current progressive and PC momentum, in order to distract from the moral questionability of their own choices. The reason pro-life versus pro-choice tends to be divided along gender lines isn’t so much because it’s about men wanting to control women, but because of the two genders, women are obviously the ones who would have the largest interest in committing homicide of this form.
The very name we give the pro-choice ideology is misleading and manipulative, as it paints pro-lifers out to be some kind of fascists out to squash our freedoms of choice, when it’s really about the choice to commit murder. To speak theoretically/unrealistically just to draw an analogy, if the term weren’t already being used for this, a school of thought might as well have arisen that says that we should be able to murder anyone we want at any time, and they could have also conveniently called themselves “pro-choice.”
It’s murder in its grossest form because it’s the murder of a child who did not yet have the chance to breathe, to be seen or to make a case for its life, by the one person who was meant to be the archetype of caring and nurture for this individual. It’s murder by reaching into the very vehicle with which this nurturing is supposed to take place and destroying the child from within before it gets to see the light of day. Only humans would do something this foul. I guess it’s all too convenient to murder your child while it’s still in the womb because then you don’t have to see it living, breathing and laughing so you don’t have to face the immediate heartbreak to the same degree.
The argument that a woman should have the right to do what she wants with her own body doesn’t stand to reason because the question in this case is whether killing a fetus is homicide (and if it’s homicide, then it should be considered murder). If it’s homicide, it doesn’t matter whether the fetus happens to be within her body or not. It’s slick to try to define anything that’s biologically dependent on her and living inside her as part of her, but that’s not necessarily the case: why isn’t it possible that another living being can have the qualities of being biologically dependent on somebody else and also living inside them?
The claim that they have the right to kill the infant because it’s within their body reminds me of two little kids, sitting in a car. One takes a pencil and stabs the other until he bleeds. The parent gets very angry, of course, and the kid’s only excuse is “His arm was on my side of the seat!”
People who justify feticide on the basis that “it’s my body” are using a fact so basic and obvious (i.e. that the fetus is located within the person’s body and is integrated with it), that there should be no point in mentioning it, and the only purpose in doing so could be to put some unwarranted spin on it, such as when people justify owning guns by saying “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Going back to the issues of the fetus’s biological dependence and its existing within the women’s body, should it be legal to kill an infant as long as you first stuff it into a person’s womb? Obviously not, so that takes care of the “it’s inside my body” argument. As for the biological-dependence argument, there’s no good reason that it’s not possible that a person who exists independently in terms of beingness could be dependent on another in terms of biology. Conjoined twins are often biologically dependent on each other, does that give one the right to murder the other? And why should biological dependence be categorically different (with respect to the right to kill) from, say, financial dependence or emotional dependence? I.e. kids are often financially dependent on their parents, should that give their parents the right to kill them?
We have laws against homicide, including homicide of infants. Now it’s not clear whether the body inside the womb is “alive” or “human”, or whatever rule you want to use, or not. But let’s use a bit of logic here. Would it be right to, one second after a baby is born, kill it? That would presumably be wrong and would definitely be illegal and would be considered murder, but what magically happens as soon as a baby is born that fundamentally changes it and makes it a human being unto itself? Obviously nothing, it’s the same whatever-it-was one second or even one week before it was born, the only difference is one of legal standing.
So the obvious question is raised: at what point during gestation does the fetus become a real, live, human being? That’s a hard question to answer definitively. There are some convenient answers like “as soon as its heart starts pumping blood” or “as soon as it starts moving on its own,” but we don’t know which of those is the truth or if any of them is. (And no, it’s not merely a matter of how one defines it. As in Nagel’s famous essay, “What is it like to be a bat?”, either there is or there is not something that it is like to be that fetus. If there is, then it’s a being unto itself.)
Since we don’t know the answer to this question, we can only err on the side of caution and not allow the killing of any fetuses to avoid murdering a human being. If you invented a machine that killed someone but with only a 20% likelihood, would it be legal to use it? Of course not! So it only makes sense that the law should err on the side of caution in this case too.
Even if we decided *not* to be extremely cautious on this matter, it’s obvious, as I argued above, that in the latest stages of pregnancy the fetus is and should be considered as a living being unto itself, so there should be a (conservative) limit on how late in the term an abortion is allowed to happen. Although we can’t know for user if life starts when the blood starts pumping or the brain develops or it starts moving on its own, etc., if we were to throw caution to the wind and allow feticide up to a certain stage of pregnancy then it would be prudent to use one of these measures as the dividing line.
Pro-choice advocates argue that there are parents who aren’t fit to raise children, and/or can’t afford it, or the child might be a rape victim, or might be born with a serious mental or physical handicap, etc. etc., but these arguments don’t stand as reasons to be pro-choice either. The argument against this line of reasoning is simple: if the child were already born, i.e. if we were talking about an infant as opposed to a fetus, would we, and should we, have the right to kill it for *any* of the above reasons? Obviously we wouldn’t, and as I’ve argued above, what legal protection should apply to an infant should also apply to a fetus, at least once it shows the first sign of life.
EDIT: The argument “If I’m not willing to raise the baby myself that the mother would be forced to carry to term then I have no right to prevent her from having an abortion” doesn’t work either. The argument falls apart when one considers the corollary, “If I’m not willing to raise the baby myself that the mother just gave birth to then I have no right to prevent her from killing it.” The same principle was applied, yet obviously in that case it would be disagreeable because it’s clearly and legally murder, so the principle doesn’t hold clout. (The very question at hand is whether feticide is in fact a form of “murder,” which depends on whether the fetus is a being unto itself as mentioned earlier.)
One thought on “Why I’m Not Pro-Choice (Even as a Non-Religious Democrat)”
If we, as a society, were not misogynist, then women would never get pregnant without their free, enthusiastic, willing, informed consent. If we, as a society, were less ageist, then even in a world where unwanted pregnancies happened, abortion of pregnancy would NOT be equivalent to murder (ie the fetus would be carefully moved then raised like any preemie should be, not killed before or during removal from the uterus).
Most people assume that allowing a pregnant woman to control her body is *inherently* the same as killing the fetus. That’s convenient for the powers that be, because opening one’s eyes to the truth that *it doesn’t have to be this way* would lead to people asking the obvious, “Why don’t we stop murdering sentient fetuses whenever we abort them?” (My ethical values say “murder” is just fine when the being in question is not a person, ie, not sentient, like with infants born without any brain at all or cabbages or bacteria. Whether they have a developed heart, require help to survive, are even technically “alive,” et al don’t matter. I don’t think a newly-fertilized zygote has any chance of a CNS developed enough for personhood, but like you, I don’t know exactly what the developmental timeline is. I laugh at arbitrary “heart beating” bs–if my heart stopped and I needed life support, I sure as hell hope that doesn’t make me fair game for being murdered!) And the answer would be, “We don’t care enough to prioritize saving these babies, or preventing them from being forced onto Planet Earth in the first place. It would take effort, attitude changes, and of course, $$$!” So the false dilemma continues.